Saturday, 22 March 2014

Church of St Anselm, Kennington Cross SE11

St Anselm's church was planned in 1911 but the intervention of the Great War delayed construction until 1932. The design is an updated Roman basilica, a form that combines majesty and economy.
The architects were Adshead & Ramsey, who brought in Alfred Gerrard to carve the figure of the saint over the door and the capitals on the columns inside.
Gerrard spent most of his career in charge of sculpture at the Slade, teaching and influencing a generation including Edwardo Paolozzi and F.E. McWilliam. In the First World War he flew night bombing raids with the RFC and in the Second he worked on camouflage and as a war artist. One of his eccentricities was standardising his dress, buying lots of the same items including corduroy trousers, collarless shirts and sports jackets, avoiding any need for thought when getting dressed in the morning.
St Anselm was Archbishop of Canterbury under William Rufus and Henry I, as well as a major philosopher and writer. Gerrard depicts him as a curiously child-like figure seated between a lion and a lamb lying down together, as in Isaiah, holding his right hand up in blessing.

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